Friday, October 31, 2008

Pray for Christians in Turkey

Pray for Christians in Turkey. I was just listening to a story on the BBC about Catholics living in Tarsus (St. Paul's birthplace). The Church there is actually operated by the government as a museum and they refuse to allow Christians to celebrate the mass in it. Therefore, Catholics must travel over an hour away to the next city just to attend mass. Please pray that this situation changes, and that the government there allows more freedom with regards to religion.

Also, there are scheduled dialogues between Muslim and Christian leaders there. Pray for this effort, that we can all become closer as God's children.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Psychological Tests for New Priest

So, I just heard on BBC that Pope Benedict just approved new psychological tests for people who are discerning the priesthood. I still have not made up my mind about this (and really don't know enough about it), but I am curious about your opinions:

Is it a good idea to subject priests to a psychological test before the priesthood? What would rule out a candidate? According to the BBC, it is to make sure people discerning can "control their sexual urges". That sounds fine, since a priest should be able to do such (towards males or females). I'm kind of interested in this new movement though.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Evangelicals and Politics of Fear

This article from MSNBC describes some of the fear tactics some evangelicals and others on the Christian right are beginning to try to use against Obama. Sadly, I recognize some of these tactics as things I have seen certain Catholics participate in. We should be ashamed to participate in these kind of smear campaigns.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Trying another angle

Ok. One more bone to pick about the political situation. For you McCain supporters, I've heard over and over that I cannot support a Presidential candidate who supports an intrinsic evil (although Cardinal Ratzinger prior to becoming the Holy Father clearly wrote that there are situations where you can vote for someone who supports abortion as long as that isn't the specific reason you are voting for them and that there are balancing issues).

Here's the problem. McCain also supports intrinsic evil, in the form of abortion. McCain does support abortion in certain cases, and even if those are politically debateable, the Church has not allowed debate on them. So, let's make a logical argument here:

A) I cannot vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil
B) Abortion in any case is an intrinsic evil
C) McCain supports abortion in some cases
D) McCain supports an intrinsic evil
E) I cannot vote for McCain

Now, I reject this hypothesis, because everyone turning this into a single issue election is, quite frankly, wrong to do so and bind it on others. (In other words, if your conscience won't allow you to vote for someone who supports abortion, or forces you to choose the one who supports "less" abortion, then that is your choice.) I've chosen to support the candidate, who to my knowledge, does not support any intrinsic evil, including killing innocent (unborn also) in Iraq.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fueling the Fire

On Jimmy Akin's Blog, he had a nice post that falls in line with most of your thinking my friends (subtle joke about McCain here). What caught my attention, however was a nice comment (first one) by a fellow named Diogenes. I've selected a few juicy tidbits but highly recommend going over to read the whole debate.

"Indeed, the pro-life ploy is perfectly demonic: in holding out the illusionary possibility of destroying an evil an even greater evil is fed. But what can be more evil than killing babies? It is that which is the cause of this killing and myriad other evils. Indeed, as atrocious as abortion is, it is nonetheless a symptom. Our nation is not vicious because it allows abortion, rather it allows abortion because the nation is vicious.


The urgent case in point shows an example of this culture of death. One would think U.S. pro-lifers would care about the Iraqi unborn just as much as they care about other unborn babies. A baby in-utero is neither Christian nor Moslem, neither American nor Iraqi. In Iraq how many unborn have died along with the millions of civilians that have been killed or maimed by the USA’s destruction of infrastructure, aerial bombing, and depleted uranium bombs. These depleted uranium bombs also have the added "military" advantage of causing spontaneous abortions and birth defects. However, I’ve yet to hear one single denouncement of this from the "traditional Catholic" pulpits I frequent, and only extremely rarely from the "Christian pro-lifers" I encounter. Indeed, the pro-life movement’s new found darling, Mrs. Palin, is silent on the Iraqi special needs children debilitated by our special bombs. Of course, Bomb-Bomb-Iran McCain couldn't care less. He is the same fellow who bombed innocent civilians in North Vietnam when we decided to shift from risking our own soldier’s lives and concentrate our military efforts on terrorist blanket bombing of North Vietnam population centers. Anyone that supports a candidate that gleefully looks forward to the bombing of innocent civilians (born or unborn, Christian or Moslem) in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and the devil knows where, is not pro-life, and surely not a good Christian!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Big Response (The Big Bologna)

So over the last few days I have received multiple comments, emails, facebook messages, and everything else about my decision not to vote from my Catholic friends. These ranged from supportive of my decision to and excellent post emphasizing the duty of voting to those who have been unceasingly trying to convince me that I must vote for John McCain. So, here is a response to the latter of the two.

First of all, as per voting. I also believe that I have a duty to vote. In fact, the catechism says (2240) "Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's country".

That's pretty plain, and I think I mentioned that in my post before last, when I said I felt it was my civic duty as a Catholic (and as a Knight of Columbus) to vote, and I will. I will walk in the booth with a voting ballot and I will make the selections that I can morally make with my own conscience. However, my conscience will not allow me to vote for someone who supports an evil that puts life at risk without good reason. I cannot vote for Obama because of his stance on abortion. I cannot vote for McCain because of his stance on the war (where many innocent children are dying every day, something that I truly believe to be intrinsic evil) and his stance on the death penalty, which the Catechism describes as only morally acceptable only when there is no other way to prevent the person from harming others. Capital punishment, in the words of Pope John Paul II is morally acceptable only very rarely, if ever at all in our modern society.

Now let's talk specifically about the Republican Party for a little while. I'm not convinced that John McCain is the "lesser of the two evils". We have had Republican Presidents in 28 of the last 40 years (yes, only 12 years of Democratic presidents). Guess what has happened in that time? Roe V. Wade, the growth of abortion, and an increase in the intrinsic evil that all of us hate. If abortion was illegal and did not exist in the country, how many votes do you think the Republican party would receive? Very few. So, what's the best way to keep winning elections? Keep the issue of abortion on the table. It drives us away from a party who cares more for the poor and has traditionally been anti capital punishment (the current lackluster candidate notwithstanding). Republicans can stomp and scream and shout about gay marriage and anti abortion amendments till the cows come home, but eventually they have to do something about it.

So, sorry but I can't vote for either one. I might, however, find one of these candidates that I can vote for.

Update: I think I've found my man and he's actually more conservative on the abortion issue than McCain (not that hard to do).

Friday, October 17, 2008

Elections...One last time

I'm hoping this is my last political post of the year. I listened to McCain and Obama speak at the Catholic non-profit tonight. I must say that even though I am still adamently against both of these candidates, I can't imagine where these personalities have been over the last year. I honestly thought it was the best speech for both candidate that I have heard, even though it was a little over the top in humor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day

I had no idea, but according to the Liturgy Blog today is "Blog Action Day" which means we should use our blogs to target a specific issue and this year is poverty. I encourage you to ask St. Francis for his intercession on behalf of the poor, ask for help for the poor in the daily mass intentions, say a rosary for the poor, and give some money to a charity that benefits them. It is a real problem, not only in other countries, but also in the United States, even in my home state of West Virginia, where we experienced extreme poverty on a service trip last April in the Southern part of the state. Please pray for all these, and do what you can - even though I know many of you might be going through financial difficulties of your own. Even if it is just to provide a sandwich for a homeless person in your town!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

CoC to KoC

Well, last night I received my first degree in the Knights of Columbus. I can't speak about the ceremony, but it was great. I'm happy to have come this far in my spiritual journey, and I am looking forward to working with my fellow Knights to combat poverty, mental health, and enjoy our dedication to the Blessed Virgin. If you are a Catholic male, think about joining. If you are a Catholic female, think about becoming a Catholic Daughter. If you are neither, pray that we might have a positive impact on the world, each other, but especially the least fortunate.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why I have decided not to vote for President

So, last night at mass our Parish handed out the US Conference of Catholic Bishop's Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. It reminded me that I should definitely remember to participate in political life as much as possible, and I think that includes voting to some extent, and as a person's conscience dictates:

In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation
in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal
commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do. As
the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “It is necessary that all participate,
each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This
obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. . . . As far as possible
citizens should take an active part in public life” (nos. 1913-1915).

That being said, I will definitely go to the polls and vote for officials (governor, senator, house of representatives, local elections) that my conscience allows me to vote for. Those who I find are upholding many or most of the values of the Church and also going beyond principles to actually help people in other ways. Community development (especially downtowns, eliminating driving, and increasing public transportation) is very important to me as well, so it will help me form my mind on local candidates especially.

I decided to read it in light of the pressing Presidential election though, and this is what I found:

As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single
issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a
single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the
promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from
receiving support.


The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of
dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. Racism and
other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war,
the use of torture,4 war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering
from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious
moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not
optional concerns which can be dismissed. Catholics are urged to seriously consider
Church teaching on these issues. Although choices about how best to respond
to these and other compelling threats to human life and dignity are matters for
principled debate and decision, this does not make them optional concerns or
permit Catholics to dismiss or ignore Church teaching on these important issues.
Clearly not every Catholic can be actively involved on each of these concerns,
but we need to support one another as our community of faith defends human life
and dignity wherever it is threatened. We are not factions, but one family of faith
fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.


It must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience
does not permit one to vote for a political program or an
individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents
of faith and morals. The Christian faith is an integral unity,
and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to
the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political
commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church’s social
doctrine does not exhaust one’s responsibility towards the
common good. (Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the
Participation of Catholics in Political Life, no. 4)

Frankly, neither candidate has illustrated to me a dedication to right to life issues on abortion or any other of the important life issues. Nor has McCain demonstrated to me that he genuinely cares or wants to improve the war situation (outside of "winning), health care, the economic situation of the poor, immigrants, etc. etc. etc.

I cannot vote for either one of them with a clean conscience. That's my personal decision, no one else's, and it is not something I would bind on anyone or ask anyone to try to bind on me. In fact, I have chosen to:

When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the
conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the
extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation,
may decide to vote for the candidate
deemed less likely to advance such
a morally flawed position and more
likely to pursue other authentic
human goods.

because I really don't know which one will be less likely to advance a morally flawed position, as they both seem to me to be extremely morally flawed!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Development of Doctrine

One thing we are accused of as Catholics is inventing new doctrines or teaching the "traditions of men". Part of the reason behind this is that others don't understand the development of doctrine. In today's Liturgy of the Hours, the second reading is from the first instruction by Saint Vincent of Lerins. Remebering that the Church is the Body of Christ, pay attention to what might be the best definition of development of doctrine I have ever read:

Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly, there is to be development and on the largest scale.

Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God, as to try to prevent it? But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another.

The understanding, knowledge and wisdom of one and all, of individuals as well as of the whole Church, ought then to make great and vigorous progress with the passing of the ages and the centuries, but only along its own line of development, that is, with the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import.

The religion of souls should follow the law of development of bodies. Though bodies develop and unfold their component parts with the passing of the years, they always remain what they were. There is a great difference between the flower of childhood and the maturity of age, but those who become old are the very same people who were once young. Though the condition and appearance of one and the same individual may change, it is one and the same nature, one and the same person.

The tiny members of unweaned children and the grown members of young men are still the same members. Men have the same number of limbs as children. Whatever develops at a later age was already present in seminal form; there is nothing new in old age that was not already latent in childhood.

There is no doubt, then, that the legitimate and correct rule of development, the established and wonderful order of growth, is this: in older people the fullness of years always brings to completion those members and forms that the wisdom of the Creator fashioned beforehand in their earlier years.

If, however, the human form were to turn into some shape that did not belong to its own nature, or ever if something were added to the sum of its members or subtracted from it, the whole body would necessarily perish or become grotesque or at least be enfeebled. In the same way, the doctrine of the Christian religion should properly follow these laws of development, that is, by becoming firmer over the years, more ample in the course of time, more exalted as it advances in age.

In ancient times our ancestors sowed the good seed in the harvest field of the Church. It would be very wrong and unfitting if we, their descendants, were to reap, not the genuine wheat of truth but the intrusive growth of error.

On the contrary, what is right and fitting is this: there should be no inconsistency between first and last, but we should reap true doctrine from the growth of true teaching, so that when, in the course of time, those first sowings yield an increase, it may flourish and be tended in our day also.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Worrisome Political Stuff

Ok. I hate to talk about politics. I believe as a Catholic that you can vote according to your own conscience with reference to what the Catholic Bishops have requested you to consider. While an anti-abortion position might be the most important thing in the world, I can't judge how someone else chooses to balance or not balance their positions. The Catholic Church has not endorsed a political candidate nor should it. That leads me to the following article on Catholic Online.

Apparently, Dr. Cafardi has felt it necessary to resign from his post at Franciscan U. because he supports Obama. People are heralding this as a decision that he had to make, and somehow trying to paint him as an unfaithful Catholic or a terrible professor. The following quote, for instance and from the link above, bothers me to no end:

The departure of Nicholas Cafardi removes the immediacy of dealing with the inherent contradiction of having on the Institutional Board of Franciscan University a man who has taken such a controversial position.

I'm sorry but you can't dictate your politics to every other Catholic on the face of the planet nor make his choice for President a "controversial position". I'm both Republican and Pro-Life, but on some angle he may be correct - the Republican Party is trying to hold conservatives hostage with the "pro-life" position while conducting a war, supporting the death penalty, neglecting the poor, harming the environment, etc. There is a balance out there, and while I will most likely end up voting for John McCain come November, this man has a right to his opinion and he may very well be correct and we should wake up and smell the coffee - even if just to put pressure on them to make the correct choices. McCain hasn't been out there vehemently defending the unborn either, as far as I have seen.

Hopefully the article is correct that no pressure was put on this professor to resign. If so, the Church had better be very careful about any money they might be sending to Franciscan University.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Letter to Myself

During RCIA last year we wrote a letter to ourselves, which our Deacon mailed to us 6 months later. I received mine recently and thought I would share it with you as part of my Catholic Journey:

Dear Joseph the Worker,

Today I am so excited about taking my first communion. Every day I think about the words "I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed". I know when I read this I will still not be worthy but I pray that I will have been receiving Christ for the last six months in the Eucharist.

-Joseph the Worker

Monday, October 6, 2008

Roots of Premillenial Theory

I was reading the book "Lives of the Popes" written in the 15th Century today. Very interestingly, the author had this to say:

What shall I say about the most foul teaching of Cerinthus? He said Christ's Kingdom would come after a thousand years and would be on Earth; hence in Greek he was called a "chiliast". Since he was intolerant of lusts and desires, he held out the prospect of sensual pleasures, an abundance of food and plenty of women, in the holy promises of the kingdom to come. Nepos, a Bishop in parts of Egypt, also believed this. He said that the saints would reign on Earth with Christ amid every delight and pleasure of the body. the followers of this filthy sect were called Nepotians.

Now, even if there is no direct link between these heretics and the premillenial theology that we hear today, it is very interesting that this worldly Kingdom and 1000 year reign of Christ was given no merit at all among the Early Church, and by the 15th Century, it seemed to be a very perverse idea indeed.

Spiritual Journeys

Just the other day, Jennifer shared her spiritual journey with me via the comments below. I just finished reading it and had a few thoughts. First, it is interesting to note how similar so many convert stories are to each other. Her story and mine had many similarities. Especially striking to me was how the Pentecostals and the Independent Baptists attempted to trace themselves through the same heretical groups that I saw the Church of Christ try to trace themselves through and the same false sense of history among all these groups as well. A good spiritual journey that touches on these issues in the Church of Christ and fully explores the significance is here.

Her spiritual journey was wonderful. I wish you all the luck in the world Jennifer and I will pray for you often and thanks for sharing with me. I completed RCIA last year and I had many of the same feelings as you going into it. Waiting a year to receive the sacraments is tough but well worth it when you get to the other side. Just a reminder to all my readers (I've heard from many of you) that my spiritual journey is available here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Prosperity Gospel

The whole idea behind the "Prosperity Gospel" has been something very interesting to me. It came up because I just stumbled upon this article which describes how the Prosperity Gospel might be driving people to foreclose on their homes now.

The basic idea behind prosperity theology is that God will financially bless those who follow him and are obedient to his teachings. It is prominant among African American evangelicals today (Pentecostals most typically, most famous individual I know of who touts it is T.D. Banks) and to me it seems as though it has its roots in the "Calvanist Work Ethic" - whereby the Calvanist was thought to work harder in order to please God and thereby would be financially successful. It seems as though as a country we have always believed that God somehow blesses Godly countries with financial prosperity more than others as well.

My first exposure to it had to be within the Church of Christ denomination. Now clearly, they did not teach this verbally, but it seemed to be an underlying position, especially among the more conservative "anti" groups. Instead of catering and helping the poor (the very ones that Jesus went out and talked to), we instead ignored them or tried to keep them away because they were just bums wanting our money. They should go out and get jobs for themselves.

When I became Catholic, I realized how foolish I had been. The poor are so important - being human beings - and they need our love and help. Jesus constantly went to the poor and encouraged us to do the same. All people are not just bums because they are homeless - some have addictions, mental problems, and other issues that we can't even imagine that prevent them from functioning properly in society. Jesus went to those people. Think about Lazarus, for instance, who rests in Abraham's bosom. Compare him to the rich man who, well didn't make it. The rich are portrayed more often than not as negative in the New Testament (of course that doesn't mean it is always negative, but there is a lot of temptation once you have money, and it might be hard to live a Godly life and become rich.) The actual advice Jesus gave was to give all your money away and follow him! Some of our Saints have done this, like St. Francis.

Let's pray for those who are losing their homes because of faulty theology, and for all the poor.

St. Francis, pray for us.

Just for Fun

Click here and get a good laugh - Catholic related obviously.

Catholic Influence

I was just watching my favorite television show, The Great Heresies on EWTN. I was just thinking about how amazing it is that so many Protestant beliefs, the ones they take for granted, such as the true nature of Christ (man and God) and the concept of the Trinity are all developments of Catholic councils in the early centuries. It blows my mind because I believed in these things as a Protestant, but never had real "sola scriptura" backing for it. Only with the interpretation of the Church did it ever become clear.

Also, today is the Feast Day (well yesterday technically) of the Guardian Angels. Say a prayer asking for protection and guidance from your Guardian Angel today!